Google parent company Alphabet has announced the launch of Google DeepMind, a new AI-focused group within the company that combines its existing DeepMind and Brain teams.
The move will “significantly accelerate our progress in AI,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post accompanying the announcement. He added that, “To ensure the bold and responsible development of general AI, we’re creating a unit that will help us build more capable systems more safely and responsibly.”
DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis will head up the new group as CEO, while Brain co-founder Jeff Dean will serve as Google and Google DeepMind’s chief scientist.
Dean’s first project will be “a series of powerful, multimodal AI models,” Pichai wrote, while Hassabis will “lead the development of our most capable and responsible general AI systems,” that will ultimately help power the next generation of Alphabet’s products and services.
The phenomenal teams from Google Research’s Brain and @DeepMind have made many of the seminal research advances that underpin modern AI, from Deep RL to Transformers. Now we’re joining forces as a single unit, Google DeepMind, which I’m thrilled to lead! https://t.co/n2cpn91AOl
— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) April 20, 2023
Hailing the “research advances” achieved by the DeepMind and Brain teams, Hassabis wrote that, “the work we are going to be doing now as part of this new combined unit will create the next wave of world-changing breakthroughs.”
DeepMind and Brain
Founded in 2010, DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014. Its projects include AlphaGo, a deep learning program that made headlines in 2016 when it beat one of the world’s highest-ranked Go players, Lee Sedol. Its AlphaFold program is used to predict 3D models of protein structures from their amino acid sequences.
Brain, Google’s deep learning unit, was founded in 2011 under the Google X R&D program. It has contributed to projects including Google Translate and TensorFlow, an open-source software library that enables users to train their own neural networks.
Like other tech giants including Microsoft, Google is pouring billions into the development of artificial intelligence technology. In February 2023, it partnered with ChatGPT rival Anthropic to develop “reliable and responsible AI.” In the same month, it launched Google Bard, a conversational AI service that has met with a mixed response, with employees reportedly calling the product “cringe-worthy” and “a pathological liar.”
In a recent interview, Google CEO Pichai argued that concerns around the development of AI are cause for optimism, arguing that, “Compared to any other technology, I’ve seen more people worried about it earlier in its lifecycle, so I feel optimistic about the number of people who started worrying about the implications, and hence the conversations are starting in a serious way as well.”